PLEASANT POINT, Maine — Steve Crawford, environmental director for the Passamaquoddy Tribe at Pleasant Point since 2003, has been let go because, he says, “I’m not Passamaquoddy.” The tribe denied the allegation.
Crawford is a zoologist and expert in water treatment systems who, before going to work for the tribe, helped to develop and manage Cobscook Bay’s only nori, or seaweed, commercial farm.
Crawford said Monday that he was let go after a tribal member who worked for him applied for his position, which he said was advertised every year in anticipation of attracting a qualified applicant who was Passamaquody.
Clayton Cleaves, the Passamaquoddy tribal chief, said Monday that Crawford’s claim that he was terminated because he’s not a tribal member is “absolutely false.”
“What surrounded his release from work nearly a month ago is a matter of ongoing investigations,” Cleaves said Monday. “If people think that jobs are based on tribal membership, that’s untrue. It’s about 50 percent tribal membership, and 50 percent not.”
Cleaves said Crawford’s position remains vacant as the tribe is involved in reorganizing the environmental department.
Crawford said Monday that he hopes to relocate to North Carolina, where he is now building a home.
Crawford is now involved in research into how to extract oil from algae grown in greenhouses.
“This is being done on a large scale in Australia,” he said Monday. “Quantas [airlines] is flying jets fueled with oil from algae, and it’s something that BP [British Petroleum] is working on. At this point it’s a departure for the norm at $10 a gallon, but it’s an unlimited resource.”